Becoming an information technology (IT) consultant is easier nowadays. With the advent of technology, anyone can study and eventually work as a certified IT consultant. However, as simple as it may sound, the road to becoming one requires various steps.
You have to get a degree, certification, and experience. That way, your potential clients can see you as an authority in your industry. Imagine hiring someone who claims to be an expert in a certain field. You’ll want them to be able to show proof of their skills and background, right? Well, that’s how it works if you want to succeed in the IT consultancy field.
What Does An IT Consultant Do?
An IT consultant doesn’t only provide businesses with advice. Rather, IT consultants like those from Spectrumwise IT Consulting and similar companies help clients fulfill their targets and goals more efficiently using IT. Generally, you do this by integrating IT into their businesses through your technical specialization.
Moreover, being an IT consultant means synchronizing staff members and the technical team to meet the business’ strategy and model requirements. Part of your responsibility is to develop solutions to a company’s issues as well. This means you should have strong analytical skills and high standards in order to come up with effective strategies.
IT consultants can have a specialization and be any of the following:
- IT Security Consultant: With this type of consultancy, you’ll deal with the cybersecurity of a company or business. This is one niche of IT consultancy that’s in demand because of the rampant cyberattacks that many companies face. What’s more, cybercriminals target any business: big or small, public or private, state or federal. If you choose this area of expertise, then your responsibilities include providing solutions and advice on protecting businesses’ digital assets. An IT security consultant’s role is crucial for companies in many ways, from preventing hacking attempts to securing networks to installing virus protection.
- Maintenance And Repair Consultant: Aside from cyberattacks, software or hardware issues can also disrupt business operations. Thus, companies hire regular maintenance and repair consultants whom they can call immediately to avoid having to stop their business operations. You’ll provide support for software or hardware problems on their network or machines.
- Project Management Consultant: An exciting way to provide IT advice is to become a project management consultant. You’ll provide IT solutions and answers to business owners’ projects, and your primary focus is IT solutions, including their details, scope, and cost analysis. This is vital as businesses nowadays require technology to grow or expand.
Benefits Of Being An IT Consultant
One reason that IT consultancy is a popular career is because it’s in demand. As mentioned, many businesses require your expertise in IT because buying technology is a waste if it can’t be used efficiently. Aside from that, you can enjoy the following benefits:
- Work When Needed: This means you’ll enjoy applying your expertise to a specific area of a project where your skills are required. You don’t have to spend your time on the project from start to finish. Thus, you won’t be stuck in a project that may drag on for months.
- Receive What You Deserve: IT consultants are often compensated handsomely, especially if you follow the steps outlined below. Most clients will even pay a premium for the privilege of hiring your expertise if you’re an experienced consultant.
- Learn What’s New: You may be a seasoned IT expert, but your job requires being on the loop with the latest IT platforms, software, and technologies your clients use. This will help you experience working with various solutions so you can be an even better IT consultant and serve your clients well for years to come.
- Enjoy Flexibility: As mentioned, you only work on a specific area of a project. Thus, you can work for various companies at a time if you wish. You can enjoy flexible working arrangements while learning new strategies in each project. As a result, you can expand your skills since working with different businesses exposes you to various IT issues you might not encounter if you kept providing your services to the same company.
Steps To Become An IT Consultant
If the benefits above have convinced you to start pursuing an IT consultancy job, then you’re in for a treat. Here are some of the things you need to do so you can be part of one of the most lucrative branches of consultancy:
1. Complete A Degree In IT
While you can become an IT expert without finishing tertiary education, having a degree may be advantageous. Whether you spend it in an online school or a traditional learning institution, an IT-related course can be a good starting point before you start a career in IT. Pursuing a degree will allow you to learn aspects of IT you may not be able to discover or understand on your own.
Since there are various niches of IT consultancy, you have the following options when it comes to the degree you can obtain:
- Database Management Systems: As its name suggests, this course will let you create, edit, and manage a database system through practical activities and concepts. The program will help you understand information concepts and their importance to relational data models, from terminologies to characteristics to database system classifications. Thus, you can be well adept on the interface of multi-user database management system (DBMS) packages and desktop DBMS using SQL and designing data models.
- Networking Foundations: If you want to focus on networking fundamentals, this course will allow you to do just that. The program includes OSI models, WLAN, LANs and PANs, TCP/IP models, and network security layers. You’ll also understand how to use networking devices like switches, routers, NICs, and hubs. Moreover, you get to differentiate between point-to-multipoint networks and point-to-point networks.
- Information Technology: This course is one of the essential programs in any IT degree. You’ll learn skills and computer concepts necessary to apply in a computerized world. From computer programming to cybersecurity, software applications to 3D design, digital animation to desktop publishing, the course covers a broad range of topics.
- Basic Computer Operations: In this course, the focus is on basic computer programs, operating systems, computer hardware, and computer software. What’s interesting about this is you get to have hands-on laboratory courses.
2. Acquire Certifications
A degree is only a stepping-stone; the next thing you should do is to acquire various IT-related certifications. These will show that you’re continuously expanding your knowledge and honing your skills. That way, potential clients will see that you’re well versed in the services or technologies they’re using.
The more capabilities you have, the more likely clients are going to hire you. Some, like government entities, even require that certain certifications and credentials be included in your proposal or application.
However, there are certifications that may not be considered valuable credentials. For instance, you have a certification in Microsoft Azure, but your clients are using a different service. Even if you ace a program and have years of experience with it, clients who aren’t using that platform won’t appreciate your knowledge on it. Thus, you may need to look for a relevant audience. Either that or just work on developing the existing skills you’re using with your current clients.
3. Attain IT Experience
Another factor that most clients will look into is your experience. It may be difficult to find clients not requiring years of practice in the IT industry; some even want experience in a specific IT field. That’s why you may not become an IT consultant right after you finish an IT degree.
You want to prove to your clients that you can give them the advice and solutions they need because you learned the ropes through years of experience. Although you can always apply for companies, your chances of getting hired might be slim. As such, you may want to do one or all of the following to gain the kind of IT experience most clients require:
- Freelancing: If you don’t want to work for a company for the long term, you may opt to freelance. Many clients seek pay-per-project employees for their IT needs, and freelancers are the perfect candidates for such arrangements. If you take this route, you can gain experience, receive feedback, and weigh what specific IT roles are to your liking.
Since it can take anywhere from a day to a few months, you can easily change your specialization after completing a project if you don’t like what you’ve experienced. Or you may even find a client you want to work with full-time. What’s important is to build a work history you can add to your resume.
- Volunteering: Another way to boost your experience level is to connect with professional and student organizations that need your help. Volunteer your expertise and ask them for feedback. That way, you’ll know if your solutions are effective or if you need more training. Also, you can make a positive impression on potential clients if you volunteer regularly.
- Internships: Looking for a job that would allow you to gain experience in the IT industry may be challenging. This is because most employers are looking for professionals who already have experience. If you’re a fresh graduate, then doing internships can help you. You’ll get hands-on experience even if you might only be given a small stipend or salary. If you do a great job, then the employer may even hire you. You can also use the company you intern for as a reference when you’re seeking employment.
4. Build Your Network
While gaining relevant experience is advisable, you must also grow your network. It’s best to start connecting with other professionals and even people from different industries. That way, they can turn to you if they ever need your expertise in the future. Instead of posting IT jobs, they may remember you and contact you for such.
You can start by attending professional networking events related to your field. These can help you become more familiar with projects other professionals are working on, trends that have to do with IT solutions, and IT matters you may not yet know about. You may even have the opportunity to find a mentor who can guide you in your career development.
You can also use digital platforms to connect with like-minded professionals. Add them to your following list, comment on their posts, or contact them for professional advice. That way, you can establish a good relationship with them.
By becoming engaged with other professionals, you can come up with a list of potential clients. Or they may refer you to their friends, especially if they know what your capabilities are.
Volunteering your services to organizations in need will help bolster your network opportunities as well. Many businesses and professionals may find it appealing if you give back to the community and not just think about making money.
5. Advance Your Career
After years of experience, you’ll learn which specific field you excel in or enjoy doing in the IT industry. If you’re doing especially well in one area, then it may be best to upskill until you become an expert on it. In doing so, you can easily prove that your potential clients will receive nothing but high-quality IT consultancy services from you.
On the other hand, you may end up not excelling in the field you enjoy most. Attend training that’s meant specifically for that area until you improve. You can also ask your mentor for tips and suggestions on how to better yourself as a professional.
What’s important is to become an expert in one field. While it’s good to become knowledgeable in every IT-related area, it’s still best to have a niche. That’s because many IT consultant positions are specific. Thus, it’s advisable to hone your skills in a particular niche since clients are more likely to search for specialists rather than generalists.
Another way to further your career is to finish a master’s degree or postgraduate IT-related program. However, this degree must highlight your niche. Avoid finishing one that’s not focused on the services you’re offering, unless you want to switch to a different niche. When you have a postgraduate degree, your potential clients will feel more secure knowing they’ll hire someone who has advanced credentials for their expertise.
Becoming an IT consultant doesn’t happen overnight. It requires education, hard work, and years of experience before clients may acknowledge you as an expert they should hire. An IT-related degree may help you land a job but not in the consultancy field. Thus, you need to have more certifications and experience to show that you can provide IT solutions that will enhance every client’s business. It may be a long road, but soon, it’ll pay off. Start your journey now.